Although we all have childhood memories of school days seeming to last forever, adulthood provides a new perspective on time spent learning. According to most parents and teachers, the time set aside for students to learn is not enough.
Many teachers understand students need more learning opportunities to become well rounded, educated adults. That is why they do everything they can to maximize and expand learning for their students – in the classroom and outside of it.
Stephanie Shinas, Environmental Education Course Director at Thompson Island Outward Bound has seen this first-hand. Stephanie spends many of her working hours leading programs for students on Thompson Island; when she is off-island, she works at the Young Achievers public school campus. This new initiative allows Thompson Island to build stronger relationships with schools and expands our ability to deepen social emotional impact. Stephanie’s consistent presence in Young Achievers helps Thompson Island staff better integrate what students are learning in the classroom with their experiences on Thompson Island (and vice versa).
It also gives Stephanie an inside look at the many ways Young Achievers’ teachers work to maximize and extend learning opportunities for their students.
“What stands out the most is how hard they work,” says Stephanie. “It is so impactful to see how dedicated these teachers are to creating an experiential education for their students. Whether that includes multiple labs for each science concept they are teaching or going the extra mile to set up a field trip. Their passion and their drive for what they are teaching is inspiring.”
By partnering with organizations like Thompson Island Outward Bound, Young Achievers teachers make sure their students have education opportunities that extend beyond the physical limitations of the school grounds. These experiences dramatically reinforce for students the understanding that science is everywhere and not simply a collection of ideas found in their textbooks.
“For example, a 7th grade science teacher was able to discuss how Young Achievers is built on a drumlin which connected to Thompson Island’s geology lesson.” Stephanie explains, “Later, when they arrived on the island, our field staff were able to take the students to our kettle hole where they explored in nature, what they learned about in class.”
Ultimately, the commitment these teachers devote to offering expanded experiential learning opportunities teach their pupils that they can learn to think like scientists everywhere. That they can be an active participant in their own education.
The time available in the classroom may not be enough to teach students everything they need to know, but when we expand students’ opportunities to learn, we expand their understanding of what learning is and what they are capable of – unlocking a lifetime for continued learning and growth.